Boston’s MGM Music Hall
A Fit At Fenway

THE BEANTOWN WAY: Chris Stapleton performed Sept. 1 at the new MGM Music Hall at Fenway Park in Boston. Photo by Getty Images

The MGM Music Hall at Fenway had its ribbon-cutting on Aug. 22, kicking off a run of major music events with the backing of the Boston Red Sox and concert behemoth Live Nation.
The new 5,000-capacity venue is tucked into a parking lot at the corner of Lansdowne and Ipswitch Streets directly behind Fenway Park, the historic home of the Sox.

Red Sox Chairman Tom Werner’s Fenway Sports Group Real Estate originated the project, while the Fenway Music Company and Live Nation – under the guidance of legendary Boston promoter Don Law – operate the 91,500-square-foot venue, w hich boasts four levels, with the furthest seat only 110 feet from the 80-foot-wide by 40-foot-deep stage.

There are nearly 2,000 fixed seats, with removable seats on the floor for a standing, general admission section, featuring coat checks on all levels and 10 individual bars. The venue debuted with James Taylor on Aug. 29-30, but it was three nights featuring Bruno Mars on Sept. 7, 9 and 11 that marked its official launch. Upcoming gigs include Porcupine Tree, Rosalia, Roxy Music, Lil Nas X and Lamb of God.

More than 65 acts have been booked through the end of the calendar year.
Live Nation New England Chairman Law explains the long-term success of the 2,500-
capacity House of Blues Boston made it clear the market needed a larger room.

“The size, versatility and thoughtful design serves as a very convincing option for artists of all sizes and genres who would like to play the market,” he said. “A room of this size fits extremely well with our other venues in the market.” That includes the 450-capacity Brighton Music Hall, the 900-seat Paradise Rock Club, the 2,700-seat Orpheum Theatre and the 5,000-seat Leader Bank Pavilion.

The design and construction of the venue, utilizing the lot’s triangle shape, was completed by Gilbane, Inc. (General Contractor), DAIQ (Design Architect) and Jones Lang LaSalle (Project Management). The amenities include an intimate feel and top-notch sound and lighting, with an open-air rooftop that provides a view of the downtown Boston skyline. Solar energy increases the venue’s sustainability, with 331 Hanwha 480-watt panels on the roof estimated to generate 160,000 kilowatts of energy annually.

Over 2.7 million pounds of steel were used to construct the building and approximately 80,000 concrete masonry unit blocks made up the venue walls and portions of the vertical expansion. Roughly 8,500 cubic yards of concrete were poured, and 600 tons of reinforced bars were used during the construction process.

“Fenway Sports Group owner John Henry had a very keen vision regarding the aesthetics of the venue and how it would fit in with historic Fenway Park,” Law said. “He took us out one winter day in the early planning stages and pointed out all of the design elements of the stadium that should be incorporated.”

With acts like Mars, Stapleton and Roxy Music typically performing in larger venues, Law says his strategy does not necessarily include underplays. “It was very important for us to launch such a special venue with world-class entertainers,” he explained. “Numerous large acts have reached out expressing interest in the venue who are longing for a more intimate setting. It makes sense for them to play multiple dates in a venue like this rather than one show at a larger venue.”

Among founding partners in the venue are MGM Resorts International, who nabbed naming rights after a successful launch of MGM Springfield, as well as Avid Technologies, Boston Beer Company, Curve, Jim Beam, MassMutual and Wasabi.

Live Nation and Law are bullish on the venue’s prospects. “This venue will quickly become the benchmark for state-of-the-art performing arts centers across the country and around the world. Its layout, attention to detail and aesthetics will be replicated far and wide in many ways, which is the most sincere form of praise,” he said. Law points to the venue’s well-known location at the hub of not just the Red Sox, but an entertainment center with retail shopping and other theaters.

“Everyone is familiar with Fenway Park and how to get there, including mass transit and parking, which is a plus,” he said.

The MGM Music Hall at Fenway will partner with its Fenway neighbor, the Boston Arts Academy (BAA), the city’s only public high school for the visual and performing arts, a reflection of the location’s diversity. Law explains the idea for the collaboration with Fenway Park culminates a two-decade-plus relationship the promoter has had with the Red Sox, producing over 90 shows at the stadium.

For Law, the MGM Music Hall at Fenway is the culmination of a concert promotion career that saw him manage the famed Boston Tea Party club in 1968. (Worth noting, the son of Columbia Records Nashville’s famed producer Don Law, Sr. who worked with Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, Ray Price and, most notably, Robert Johnson.)

“Boston has always punched above its weight class as a music market,” he said. “It has very progressive tastes and a true passion for live entertainment and the arts.”